Although cattle are
considered a herd animal, we are used to
seeing them spread out across a pasture.
When cattle spread out like this it is in
direct response to the stress we put on
them. I have to admit, I discovered this by
accident. After experimenting I figured out
how to get cattle to stay together and graze
as a herd. This has several benefits we
don't normally think of. First it reduces
selective grazing which helps control weeds.
Second, it allows us to control where the
cattle graze (without using extra fencing)
in order to meet USFS and BLM requirements
on grazing riparian areas.
also allows you to follow grazing plans
without utilizing a bunch of extra
Making a herd!
The picture below is how we
found the cattle
the end of a five day stockmanship school on
Las Damas, in Chihuahua,
Mexico. This ranch is a prime
example of just how much forage can be
made through holistic management. They
are running twice as many cows as
their neighbors on a third of the
The prior evening we set the cattle to
graze in this general direction.
could have spread out across the pasture
like "normal" cattle, but instead chose to
be grazing this close together. (In case you
are wondering about all of the grass, they
only had 8 inches at the time this picture
was taken, with only 5 inches the year
Do not confuse this
with conventional cattle placement. With
conventional placing, cattle will stay in
the same area, but be spread out. What I am
doing here is allowing the cattle to slow
down to a graze rather than actually
stopping them. They will continue grazing in
the same direction, go to water then come
back and continue their grazing
patern. The video below shows the
grazing stop and the behavioral changes in
the cattle over the course of three days.